Is Ten-pin Bowling a Sport – Is it in the Olympics?

I was stumped for an answer when my office buddies debated ten-pin bowling being a sport or a game and the argument was that bowling should be included in the Olympics as it was a popular sport in many countries. The counter-argument was that it was not a sport but a game. This leads us to the question: is ten-pin bowling a sport, and is it in the Olympics?

The answers are quite interesting. Ten-pin bowling was included in the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a demonstration sport. There was talk of having bowling in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, but it did not make it. Including ten-pin bowling in the Olympics came up once again in 2015, but the idea was dropped.

Let’s have a look to decide whether or not bowling is a sport and figure out why it was not included in the Tokyo Olympics.

Is Ten-pin Bowling a Sport or Game?

So what is the difference between a sport and a game? The dividing line is a very thin and fuzzy one.

Both sports and games are played for enjoyment, recreation, and/or professional gain. They also have their rules that need to be followed. Lastly, both sports and games have a goal to be achieved to win.

Sports and some games require some physical skill. For example, chess is a board game that does not require physical skill as such. Bowling also does not require much physical skill other than walking a few steps, swinging a ball, and launching the ball towards the ten pins.

However, fans of bowling insist that ten-pin bowling is a sport. Detractors point out that any activity which has overweight people as champions is not a sport but a game.

What do you think? Is ten-pin bowling a game or a sport? I am firmly batting for bowling as a sport. I mean, it is a competitive activity that involves a lot of skill, and thus, it has to be classified as a sport!

Why is Ten-pin Bowling Not a Part of the Olympic Movement?

So, if ten-pin bowling is a sport, then why is it not a part of the Olympic movement.

Ten-pin bowling has come very close to being part of the Olympics. As far back as 1936, it was nearly a part of the Olympic program when there was an international bowling competition during the Berlin Olympics.

Then, as I mentioned earlier, it was a demonstration sport in the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Even for the ill-fated 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Games, it was a contender with seven other contenders, but it did not make the cut. The Japanese wanted to keep costs down and did not want to invest in the expensive infrastructure needed for ten-pin bowling.

The Olympic committee wanted games that would attract young people and felt that bowling did not have that kind of pull, much to the dismay of the millions of bowling enthusiasts all over the world.

There was even an online petition that attempted to get more support for the inclusion of bowling in the Olympics, but it only got about 9000 signatures.

However, ten-pin bowling has been a part of the Special Olympics ever since it was introduced in 1975. It is also a part of the Deaflympics and has also been a part of the Commonwealth Games since 1998.

Fingers crossed that it becomes a part of the Olympics program in the future.

Some Reasons Why Ten-pin Bowling Should be an Olympic Sport

There are some pretty solid reasons why ten-pin bowling is a good candidate for inclusion in the Olympic movement. Some are as follows:

Ten-pin Bowling Has a Long Tradition as a Sport

Bowling has been around in some form or the other since the time of the Egyptians. It is played in various formats, with ten-pin bowling as the most popular form. Such a traditional game does merit a place in the Olympic pantheon.

It is a Popular Sport Internationally

Millions of people worldwide play and enjoy ten-pin bowling. Men in 100 countries of 4 continents and women in 40 countries of 3 continents play the game. There is no doubt about the popularity of ten-pin bowling.

If it is included in the Olympic program, it is sure to enhance the game’s reputation.

It is a Competitive Sport

Bowling is a highly competitive game. Players compete over 10 frames trying to shoot strikes. Besides local tournaments, there are national and international tournaments where people of all age groups participate.

Ten-pin bowling is a very popular sport in the Special Olympics. So there’s no reason why it can’t be included in the Olympic program as well.

It is a Drug-free Sport

Unless you count beer as a performance-enhancing drug, the sport of ten-pin bowling is one sport that is free of performance-enhancing drugs. A sport truly made for the greatest sporting event that is held every four years.

Ten-pin Bowling is an Inclusive Sport

As mentioned earlier, ten-pin bowling is a sport that people of all age groups enjoy. Even the differently-abled enjoy the sport so much that it is a part of the Special Olympics and the Deaflympics.

These are just some of the reasons that make ten-pin bowling a perfect sport to include in the Olympics. The world waits with bated breath for the day when bowling teams can proudly march under their countries’ flags in the biggest sporting spectacle in the world—the Olympics.

Parting Words

There is no doubt that ten-pin bowling is a sport and not a game as it requires a high level of skill. Sadly, it has flirted with the Olympics movement but has never been a part of the Games. Ardent bowling fans have been trying to get it included but have not succeeded so far.

But, it is a vital part of the Special Olympics, Deaflympics, and the Commonwealth Games. I just hope it is part of the Olympics one day. In the meanwhile, let me enjoy my beer and try to score a perfect 300!